It has already been a busy flu season at the MetroHealth Medical Center Emergency Room. Dr. Charles Emerman, the chair of the department, says they are currently seeing 50 to 60 more patients a day than normal and he expects that to get worse.
"We expect, based on the acceleration of flu business, that this is going to be a severe flu season. It's early and it's severe," said Emerman.
Most of the flu cases they are seeing at Metro, according to Dr. Emerman, are young to middle-aged people. People in those age groups can tolerate the flu better than the very young and very old, but the one reported flu related death in the state this year was a teen.
"It can be deadly, even for young people, and that's why we recommend everyone get the flu shot, even those people who say, 'I got the flu before and it wasn't so bad.' That doesn't help them this time," explained Emerman.
Doctors are advising their patients that there is still time to get the flu shot and that's even with the realization that this year's vaccine is only 40 to 50 percent effective, as opposed to most years when it is 70 to 80 percent effective. Emerman says this year's flu strain, H3N2, is traditionally nasty.
"So we get the double whammy because the H3N2 does not perfectly match the vaccine," Emerman said.